ERGONOMIC SURVIVAL GUIDE FOR

ELECTRICIANS


This SURVIVAL GUIDE is designed to promote awareness of safe work practices for ELECTRICIANS. To order this guide and other trade-specific publications, please call 1-800-963-9424 or download a pdf or html version from the Web site  http://www.dir.ca.gov/dosh/puborder.asp


Two carpenters at commercial job site

What will happen to your family and your lifestyle if you get injured and can’t work? What will you lose if you get injured?

• Your salary
• Your quality of life
• Your job advancement
• Future job opportunities

AVOID THE PAIN & COST OF AN INJURY


What Can Make You Hurt?

Most common injuries:
Back
Fingers/Hands
Knees

There are certain things in your job that can lead to fatigue, discomfort, or pain when you do them repeatedly or for long periods of time. These include:

• Exerting force to perform a task or to use a tool.
• Working in positions such as bending, stooping, twisting, and overhead reaching.
• Using awkward hand, wrist, elbow, or shoulder postures
• Remaining in the same position for a long time with little or no movement.
• Continuous pressure from a hard surface or edge on any part of the body.
• Working in very hot or cold temperatures, produced by climate, equipment, or machines.
• Sitting on, standing on, or holding equipment or tools that vibrates.

In addition, stressful conditions can increase muscle tension and reduce awareness of proper work technique.

Carpenter swinging a hammer

Carpenter bending over to pound nails

Carpenter kneeling on concrete floor

Carpenter using electric rip saw


AWARENESS


Prepare Yourself for Work

Just as a runner prepares for a race by warming up, prepare for your workday by warming up and stretching. Warm up by walking, marching in place, or moving your arms in circles. Once your muscles are warm:
• Stretch S-L-O-W-L-Y and hold each stretch 3 - 5 seconds.
• Stretch a few minutes before and during your workday.

Caution: Check with your doctor before exercising. If you feel discomfort while exercising stop immediately!

Carpenter exercising: Stretching lower back and hips     Carpenter exercising: Stretching lower back and hips

Stretch the Lower Back and Hips

Carpenter exercising: Stretching arm and shoulders     Carpenter exercising: Stretching arm and shoulders

Stretch each Arm and Shoulders

Carpenter exercising: Stretching legs     Carpenter exercising: Stretching legs

Stretch each Leg                      

While you are off work, keep yourself physically ready for returning to work whether it’s the next day or later.


Be Aware

If you experience symptoms, you must change the way you work or the tools you use. If you don’t change, your symptoms may get worse and keep you from working at all.


You may have a problem if you have any of these symptoms:

• Constant fatigue
• Cold hands
• Swelling
• Numbness
• Tingling
• Lack of energy
• Changes in skin color
• Weakness
• Loss of sensation
• Aching, burning, or shooting pain

Where?

• Back
• Hands
• Neck
• Fingers
• Shoulders
• Knees
• Arms

If you develop any symptoms:

• Talk with your supervisor about your symptoms right away.
• Work with your foreman or supervisor to identify the cause of the problem.
• Follow your company’s ergonomics program and its Injury and Illness Prevention Program.
• Always look for better ways to do your job.


SAFE WORK PRACTICES


THE WRONG WAY

 

THE SAFER WAY

Carpenter working in a bent or stooped posture

Repetitious hand work may cause pain and result in permanent injury, limiting your ability to use your hands in any kind of work.

Carpenter working while kneeling     Carpenter wearing knee pads

• Use hand tools or power tools whenever possible.
• Keep tools close to your body to reduce fatigue and increase productivity.

Carpenter lifting a heavy beam by himself

Lifting, pulling, pushing or carrying heavy loads may cause serious back injury

3 Point Lift

Two carpenters lifting a heavy beam together  Carpenter using a cart to transport materials   

• Use a three-point lift when handling heavy material by youself.
• Stack or rack conduit at waist height to reduce bending and stooping.
• Use teamwork and mechanical aids whenever possible.

Carpenter reaching out and overhead while using a drill

The force and awkward posture required to pull wire by hands is hard and tiring.

Carpenter keeping the drill close to his body     Carpenter using a scaffold to work on high area

• Avoid manual wire pulling and use a tugger or a handtool whenever possible
• Communication between the puller and feeder to coordinate movements will make the job easier and safer.
• Use lighter-weight tools.

 


SAFETY TIPS


Make It Easy on Yourself

LIGHTEN YOUR LOAD. Plan what you are going to do. Carry only the tools or equipment you will need. Wear a tool belt that fits and distribute the tools and materials evenly.

Carpenter wearing tool belt

PROTECT YOURSELF. Wear safety gear that fits. Protect your knees from hard, sharp surfaces by wearing knee pads. Wear appropriate eye protection to protect your eyes from debris and flying particles. Protect your hands from friction and sharp edges by wearing gloves.

Carpenter wearing knee pads

SELECT THE RIGHT TOOL. Choose tools that fit your hand comfortably and have soft grips. A good handle grip prevents your hand from slipping while using the tool. Consider using tools that reduce the amount of force or movements you use. Keep tools well maintained.

Framing hammer

PRACTICE GOOD HOUSEKEEPING. Pick up debris and scrap material to prevent trips, slips, and falls. Good housekeeping allows you and your equipment to get closer to your work. 

Carpenter wearing gloves to pick up scrap wood

CHANGE BODY POSITIONS. Working overhead, at floor level, or in cramped spaces forces the body into awkward postures. To relieve muscle tension and improve circulation, change body positions, alternate tasks, and stretch throughout the day.

Two carpenters working together, one on the floor, the other on a ladder


KEEP THE LOAD OR TOOL CLOSE TO YOUR BODY

Carpenter holding a 10 lb box close to his body

Carrying a 10 lb. object that is 25” from your spine is equal to 250 lbs. of force on your lower back.

LIFT SMART: Keep loads and tools close to your body. The farther the load or tool is from your spine, the greater the force on your lower back.

Carpenter holding a 10 lb box 25" from his body

Carrying a 10 lb. object that is 10” from your spine is equal to 100 lbs. of force on your lower back.

 


AVOID HEAT ILLNESS:
• Start work early in the day. Avoid extreme heat.Carpenter drinking water
• Wear light-colored and loose-fitting clothing.
• Take frequent breaks in the shade.
• Drink water frequently before, during, and even after work. Drink water even if you are not thirsty.

WHY?
Heat illness can cause fatigue, dizziness and painful muscle cramps.

 

REMEMBER: HEAT ILLNESS CAN KILL IN LESS THAN ONE HOUR OF EXPOSURE TO EXTREME HEAT!


Cal/OSHA Consultation Service
Research and Education Unit

Writers and Editors
Zin Cheung
Rick Hight
Fran Hurley
Kristy Schultz

Page Layout and Design
Jitan Patel

Acknowledgments
We thank the following people for their support and assistance in the research and development of this guide:

Jim Albers - NIOSH
Joanette Alpert - Woodward, Alpert & Associates
Liz Arioto - Wentz Group
Dave C. Bare - Cal/OSHA Consultation Service
RJ Banks - State Compensation Insurance Fund
Mario Feletto - Cal/OSHA Research and Education Unit
John Howard - NIOSH
Ira Janowitz - UC Berkeley/ San Francisco
Cay Cay Lawrence - Electrician
Patty Dickey May - Joe Dickey Electric
Bert Mazeau - Rosendin Electric
Ed Murphy - Electrical Joint Apprenticeship and and Training Committee of Santa Clara County
IBEW/NECA - Sacramento Area Electrical Apprenticeship
Jeff Silva - Frank Electric
Scott Schneider - Laborers’ Health & Safety Fund of N. America
Dave Strickler - Cal/OSHA Consultation Service
Marti Stroup - AGC California
Randi Voss - Rex Moore
Tom Waters - NIOSH


Cal/OSHA Consultation Programs
Toll Free - 1-800-963-9424
Internet - http://www.dir.ca.gov/dosh

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(559) 454-1295

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(909) 383-4567

SAN DIEGO & IMPERIAL COUNTIES
(619) 767-2060

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(818) 901-5754

SANTA FE SPRINGS - L.A. METRO AREA & ORANGE CO.
(562) 944-9366